About 1,500 people in the Deaf community came from all across the Northeast U.S. and beyond to the Waterbury Arc in Waterbury, Connecticut, on May 20, 2023 to meet friends, visit booths, watch exhibitors, and enjoy being in the Deaf world for a day.
Jonathan Salomon and Jessica McGowan Smith from the Southern New England Conference Deaf Everywhere Are Family (DEAF) ministry supported Paul and Tina Kelly at the Three Angels Deaf Ministries (3ADM)/Deaf Bible School booth. Salomon enjoyed meeting people and sharing Jesus at his first Connecticut Deaf Expo.
The team was happy to reconnect with people they had not seen since the start of COVID-19. They informed attendees of the restart of the monthly DEAF study meetings and about DEAF Camp for 2023. They met many new people interested in Bible studies and Deaf Christian fellowship.
The 3ADM booth has undergone a complete makeover with new banners, table drape, and handouts, including new Bible studies and the redesigned The Deaf Messenger magazine. From across the hall, a picture of Jesus could be seen with the words, “Jesus is Coming Again Soon! Are You Ready?” This compelling question started many conversations and prompted people to ask for materials to share with others they want to reach for Jesus.
It was the individual connections with people that were most impactful. The team met a woman whose brother had died the day before. She teared up as she spoke about his death and how there would be no interpreter for the funeral. They hugged and reminded her of the blessed hope that when Jesus comes again, there will be no more death, pain, or sadness. They also offered to pray for her and to interpret for the funeral.
Another woman, who came at the end of the expo, said she felt a strong urge to visit the 3ADM booth. This hearing woman was there to support her Deaf daughter, who also had a booth at the expo. She wanted to reach her three Deaf grandkids and her daughter for Jesus. The group told her about an upcoming Deaf camp for kids in the Washington Conference, took her contact information, and promised to send her the details. They also told her about the upcoming DEAF Camp at Camp Grotonwood in Groton, Massachusetts, on Sept. 8-10. The woman brought her daughter to the booth, and she received the Bible Adventures Stories for Kids in Sign Language DVD and Bible studies designed for children.
Almost all the DVDs and easy reading books they brought were distributed, along with many Bible study materials. They also gave away all of their DEAF Camp brochures. Several people asked for Spanish language Deaf Bible study materials. 3ADM brought some Spanish materials for the booth, and these were handed out quickly with people asking for more.
Several Deaf people came to the booth asking where the church is located and where they could worship with them. Unfortunately, there are no Deaf churches in Connecticut or anywhere in the Northeast. The group shared information about the Monthly DEAF Bible Study and hope they can connect with them this way.
Organizers are already planning next year’s Deaf Expo in Massachusetts, where they can meet and reconnect with the Deaf community and share with people who may not have other opportunities to learn about Jesus.